Ireland: Ordination of Fr Ray Browne as Bishop of Kerry

Bishop Ray Browne

Bishop Ray Browne

Father Ray Browne was ordained on Sunday as Bishop of Kerry in Saint Mary's Cathedral, Killarney. The ordination was attended by over 1,200 guests. The principal ordaining bishop was Archbishop Dermot Clifford, Archbishop of Cashel and Emly, assisted by His Excellency the Apostolic Nuncio to Ireland, Archbishop Charles J Brown and Bishop William Murphy, Bishop of Kerry. The ordination was concelebrated by His Eminence Cardinal Seán Brady, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland. The Homily was preached by Father Séamus O'Connell, Professor of Sacred Scripture at Saint Patrick's College, Maynooth.

Please see below the address of Bishop Ray Browne and the Homily of Rev Professor Séamus O'Connell:

Address of Bishop Ray Browne at his Episcopal Ordination

For the past two hours all twelve hundred of us have been like Martha's sister Mary in the gospel gathered at the Lord's feet, attentive to his presence, listening to him speak. The occasion has been my Ordination as Bishop of Kerry.

Thank you to everyone for this afternoon. Thank you to so many people who have worked so hard since early May to prepare this afternoon's Ordination ceremony. So many people were involved with preparations concerning both inside and outside the cathedral: liturgy, printing, choir, invitations, stewarding, car parking, catering.

I thank especially Cardinal Brady, and Archbishop Brown the Papal Nuncio for being with us. I thank Bishop Murphy for his assistance, advice and support to me since our first contact in late April. I thank my family and Bishop Christy and the whole family of Elphin diocese. Especially I thank the people of the diocese of Kerry who have been so kind, welcoming and encouraging over the past months. Without naming anyone, from the bottom of my heart I thank all who have made today possible.

In the history books the following is written of St Brendan, the Patron Saint of our diocese :

'In his journey to the country of Connaught Saint Brendan was accompanied by a younger brother Faithleach. When he had founded what was probably the first monastery in Connaught at Cloontuskert within the present county of Roscommon, among the exiled Ciarraige who had settled there, he left that foundation in charge of his brother Faithleach.

The year in which the brothers Brendan and Faithleach arrived at Cloontuskert was approximately 520.'

I have been parish priest of the Parish of St Faithleach, for the past five years. St Faithleach is prominent there as his name is on the parish GAA club. Thus, almost 1500 years after St Brendan, a priest from the parish of St Faithleach is chosen as Bishop of the diocese of St Brendan. With the eyes of faith can we see it in this a sign of the hand of God at work? It is a simple gesture that the Holy Water in the fonts in the Cathedral today is water from the parish well of St Faithleach on the shores of Lough Ree in County Roscommon.

In welcoming everyone here today I welcome especially the parish representatives, and the religious and priests of the diocese, - of the fifty three parishes in counties Kerry and Cork. It is the lived vibrant faith of your home communities that gives meaning to our being here. The water in St Faithleach's well is as fresh today as it was the day St Faithleach came ashore nearby. We can be confident the water will still be fresh in three generations time. The faith here in Kerry diocese is as fresh today as it was in St Brendan's time. Ours is the sacred responsibility to ensure it is as fresh in three generations time.

We are celebrating a 'Year of Faith'. The boat in the 'Year of Faith' logo reminds us of the boat of St Brendan and his ocean journeys. Hence our theme in the Ordination Booklet:

'St Brendan navigated the seas, Ours to tend the home shores.'

The boat of St Brendan points to all the missionaries who have gone forth from our parishes in the past century, and also to the way so many of our emigrants have enriched their local parish wherever worldwide they made their homes. The missionary call to spread the Good News of the Gospel is always there. There is also the great task of tending with courage and confidence the faith of the home shores. I pray God's blessing on all the parish communities of the diocese of Kerry. We are proud of the faith of past generations. Let us give of our best that with God's grace future generations will be proud of us.

'St Brendan navigated the seas, Ours to tend the home shores.'

The motto in the coat of arms of the diocese in the years ahead will be 'love one another' (John 15:12). We are called to love one another as Christ loves each one of us. For a moment be mindful of all the love that is shown every moment of every day in all our communities. Our loved ones who have gone before us, what loving lives so many of them lived.

We live in very difficult economic times. It is by no means certain that good times will soon return. In recent years how many people have got through their problems relying on the kindness and practical help of others, - family, extended family, neighbours and friends. If we are to give a chance to those in need will it mean that some who have plenty will make do with a little less? 'Love one another' is a down to earth call that can bear abundant fruit.

It is natural that as we gather today we are full of the joys of life. However remember those in our communities who this day are struggling - be it with unemployment, or financial difficulties, or the reality of a recent tragedy, or some serious illness, or depression or addiction. Remember our young people who this year or in recent years have graduated from college. For so many of them a first job in their chosen career is just not available. This day let us believe in our hearts that an important part of bringing light to such darkness is that we respond from our hearts to the loving plea of Jesus, 'Love one another'. In all we do, as Christians and as citizens, let us be gentle, kind, caring and giving, as Jesus was.

This weekend young people are journeying from all over the world with Pope Francis to Rio de Janeiro for World Youth Day. Our hopes and prayers go with them. 'Rejoice in the Lord always' (Phil 4:4) is their theme.

Let us go forth from this ceremony with the same words on our lips, 'Rejoice in the Lord always'. In the words of Our Lady, 'My soul glorifies the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour'. Thank you all for gathering this day.

Homily of Rev Professor Séamus O'Connell at the Episcopal Ordination of Raymond Browne as Bishop of Kerry

Whatever else one can say about Martha in this gospel story we have just heard, she is not indifferent. Like the Good Samaritan-whom we met last Sunday, she sees the need of the other. She sees the need of Jesus and his disciples and, in compassion, opens her home to them. But unlike the Samaritan, Martha has her limits. Her frustration and fatigue show themselves before the day is out. Like us all, she has her expectations: she expects her sister to support her in serving and she expects Jesus to acknowledge what's going on. But support she does not get! The Lord does not indulge her justified complaint. He doesn't engage with it at all. He puts something else before her: the action of her sister, who, "was sitting at the Lord's feet and listening to his word." (Luke 10:39)

Martha-and we-are left open-mouthed before Jesus. The tension is NOT resolved. And that tension reaches down into this Cathedral and into this Diocese today. Her fatigue is like the fatigue that characterizes being part of the Church in Ireland in these days and years. We are more like Martha than we think!

We often feel that things have passed the Church by, that the action is elsewhere, that people no longer remember or appreciate the huge work in education, the hospitals, the outreach, the service to emigrants, the heroic sacrifice of missionaries, in every corner of the globe, beautiful young women and men who literally gave everything for the sake of Christ-and who in the latter part of the 19th century and especially all through the 20th gave ... and gave ... and gave.

That appears to have faded. All that appears to be left is the memory and the hurt from the betrayals and failures. And failures there have been. And betrayals.

We fool ourselves if we think that the leaching of life from the Church is to be ascribed solely to the horrific betrayals, and failures and the inaction which followed for so long. The real roots of the fatigue and of the lack of life in the Church in Ireland ... and indeed in Europe lie elsewhere. They lie at the heart of what is happening between Martha and the Lord.

Martha has her limits! Martha's big and generous and strong heart has blinded her to another part of life. Her generosity has blinded to the other, to the guest. There is the person who is to be met. Martha is so busy giving that she cannot receive her guest. She is so preoccupied with looking after her guests, that she does not look at them. She looks through them.1 But the Lord asks not just be served, but to be attended to! Without attending to him, her serving makes little sense. Like in a marriage, the shared project, the shared activity, makes little sense without the shared life. You know what I mean. In the early Summer of 1989, the Diocese of Stuttgart got a new bishop, just like ourselves. In his first pastoral letter-which he titled, "A Letter to the Parishes of the Diocese," that new bishop noted that:

without our own personal conversion, all the reforms-even the most necessary and well intentioned-will fail and, without our own personal renewal, will end in empty activism. Without listening to the Word, without discerning the will of God, without a spirit of adoration and without constant prayer, there will be neither renewal of the church nor new evangelisation in Europe.

That was 24 years ago! What Bishop Walter Kasper had to say to the parishes of Stuttgart, still holds for parishes across Ireland today!

In a way, that is what Jesus puts before Martha! And the Church was and is a community of Marthas! WE are-a community of Marthas! But the Church in its fullness is a community of Marthas before the Lord. And here is the heart of the matter: before the Lord. Jesus invites Martha to remain in his presence, to be present to him, as he is to her.

What the Lord puts before Martha, is neither easy nor rapid. In the real world, change is slow, very slow and miracles have to be discerned.

This still remains new territory for us in Ireland; this way of being Church. There are some who would say that the Church in Europe is broken and needs to be fixed. It might be wiser to say that Church in Ireland, as we know it is leaving one place, and the Lord is bringing us to a new place; the second reading today:

'When you were dead ... God made you alive along with [Christ]' (Col 2:13)

It is God who does this, who brings us from death to life, from a dying Church to a living Church. The journey from death to life is not an easy journey for people in the real world. However, we are not alone: the Holy Spirit is in our hearts (see Romans 5:5) and our Father in heaven gives the Spirit of the live-giving Lord to all who ask (Luke 11:13; next Sunday's Gospel).

Our diocese is under the patronage of St Brendan, a person of faith and courage who set out on uncharted waters. Today, in Brendan's wake, Raymond Brown is ordained as Bishop of Kerry. It is a very important day for us. It is a day of joy and a day of
hope for all of us who comprise the Body of Christ in this place.

Ray, you come to us as a person of significant pastoral experience and administrative skill, and more-as a person of integrity and openness, a person of faith, a man of gentleness and respect, compassion and concern. You are someone who will be able to build on the significant legacies of our bishops since the Council, and who will gather us and find a way with us, as we are brought through these uncharted waters.

Today is a very important day for you too. As we say in Kerry, "You're stuck with us!" In a real sense, God entrusts you to us; your life among us will be part of your way to eternal life (see Luke 10:25). These are big things, mysteries of faith. I pray that we may give you the welcome you deserve, that we may engage with you and be honest with you. I have one thing to ask this day-that God help us the realize that Providence is at work among us all. If the Lord is with the Church, then the way will be full of surprises, like the way of Jesus with the disciples. A church which takes that way seriously is a church on the path to renewal. It is a Church which realizes that without Christ, there is no point in this endeavour. So let us not be afraid. Let us remember Bill Murphy's episcopal motto Nolite Timere! Do not be afraid!

Open, THROW OPEN the doors to Christ!

To his saving power ...

Do not be afraid!

Christ knows 'what is in everyone.' [see John 2:25]

ONLY HE knows it.

The words of the 58-year old Karol Wojtyła, in his inaugural homily as the newly elected Bishop of Rome in October 1978. The call of a saint, a saint of our time, a man of our age. May God who has begun this good work among us, bring it to completion.

Source: Irish Catholic Media Office

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